March Craft for Girls–Alex’s Popcorn Treat for Dollfriends

Popcorn is a great accessory for fun!  Watching a movie, going to a sporting event, slumber parties…popcorn is the main treat.  Host your own popcorn dollfriend event by downloading this craft and making enough for everyone!

Popcorn

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January’s Craft for Girls–New Year’s Celebration

I created this craft to help girls celebrate New Year’s–the day of new beginnings–and to encourage yearly goal setting.  Cut out the megaphone and party hat, then tape the ends together for dollfriend sized New Year’s party favors.  Then use the list provided to help her set some goals for 2013.

2013

Each New Year gives us hope.  It is like calling a “do over” for all the mistakes we made in the past, goals we didn’t quite accomplish; and provides a time where we surround ourselves with friends, family and loved ones who care about us in spite of our shortfalls.  Yes, I think this celebration is at the top of my list.  It is not dependant on gift giving, or money.  Anyone who can shout out, bang cooking pots or trash can lids, dance about and wish another a happy new year can participate.  New Year’s celebrations are an equal opportunity event.

I hope you join in the fun, find your optimism and share goodwill with a person in need of a kind word.  Make a new list of goals and pat yourself on the back for the good things you did in 2012.  We are all blessed–even when times are the most difficult.  Building a new business is very difficult.  It has required much sacrifice but I believe someday in the not so distant future the results will prove that there was no better project for my time.  So I am thankful that I can still overcome the struggles and I am thankful for you who believe just like me that serving people will always return more than what is required.

I wish you and your special girl(s) a wonderful and prosperous 2013–Happy New Year!

Warmly,  Ellen

$5 a Day—College success path

Why children should be involved in saving for their college starting today?

iStock_000012629618XSmall25% of children that start high school do not graduate.

30% of high school graduates do not go right on to college.

43% of students who start college will not graduate in 6 years.[i]

The reasons why American children are unsuccessful in our education system is multi-faceted and I would not begin to claim I have or can research all the answers to this question.  But I can state without a doubt that setting goals and doing something every day to keep that goal real and tangible makes a difference.  If college is a daily conversation, a daily event then our high school graduation rates will increase, the percent of kids who go on to college will increase and more young adults will graduate successfully.

Having the financial ability for college is the first hurdle students and parents face.  The second is based on character.  A young adult has to have the drive and tenacity to work for four or more years while sacrificing both financially and socially.  This focus does not happen the day they graduate from high school—it is developed over time.

The Science Behind the Theory

Creating a habit of success:
Five dollars a day saved towards college, and investment in the future can make a child’s future more tangible since everyday is a day participating in the goal.  With each day, the habit of saving and earning their own way to their dreams is recorded in their brain. This learned behavior will not only make college a more likely success but will also be applied to many things in life both now and in the future.

New neural patterns begin to form in the brain through repetition.  It takes approximately 4-6 weeks to form a new habit. So doing something everyday towards a goal, not only helps the child succeed but it programs in the very factors that make success a habit. Once successfully programmed these behaviors run on auto-pilot.  It is scientifically proven that long-term memory is never erased in a healthy mind.  So this gift of saving five dollars a day provides your child a lifelong gift that will become more than just funds for a college education but a behavioral foundation for success in life.

Reward System and Positive Feedback:
Our memories are programmed in a rich, multi sensory recordings.  Each experience has tags of sight, sound, smell, touch and emotional imprint.  The positive emotion, the sight of your smiling face helping with five dollars day, the positive words shared together on this project will not only build a nest egg for college but also enhance the foundation of a positive self-image.  When you show you believe, your child’s belief grows as well.

The Financial Reward of $5.00 per day:
So how does five dollars a day pay for college?  Here is the math:

Child’s age at beginning:  5 years old

Child’s age for first year of college: 18 years old

Interest rate: I assumed an economy that was progressively improving and investment vehicles that delivered higher return as the years progressed through a 13 year term. Interest is paid at the end of each month.

  • For the first three years of saving I used 3%
  • For the following three years I used 5%
  • For the last seven years I used 8%

Frequency of deposits into college account: Every 30 days

Following this plan your child would have $67,349.33 saved for college at the end of the term[ii]The average tuition for public college in 2012 was approximately $8,655.00[iii].

Final Thoughts
For the same cost of that gourmet coffee you drink every day, you and your child can build a path to college and more importantly, build a habit of saving and investing in the future.  Why not make this a family project?  Start build her/his path to a college education today.


Image of Perfection — Stopping the obsession before it starts.

I was only a year old when my Grandmother gave me the newest doll to hit the markets of that time.  She had long legs, a tiny waist, ample bust line, a delicate face and was dressed in the latest fashion.  She was perfect.  Even her name was cute.  My fashion doll followed me through life until I was in my late 30’s where she was misplaced in a box which was later lost.  But, I still remember fondly my perfect fashion doll.

It would be many years later when I realized that this doll was more than a doll and how I perceived myself was based on this idea of beauty.  At 5’6” I was never tall enough.  My blond hair was never long enough, my Norwegian thighs never small enough, and the butterfly pattern freckles were splotches of imperfection across my high cheek bones.  They say I was pretty back then, but all I ever saw was imperfection.

This obsession with how I thought I should look followed me through my mid 40’s and then something hit.  I questioned myself, “When was it going to end?  When would I be happy with just being me?”

As a fitness trainer for 25 years, I witnessed the same obsession from young girls who were the spitting image of perfection.  My heart grew heavy with each girl I tried to counsel, pointing out that they were in fact the perfection of youth.  But they, like my steps before them, walked away unconvinced.

It was through studies of memory and how the brain records patterns that I found the seed leading to the chain of body discontent.  What our girls play with does make a difference in how they perceive themselves.  They record the patterns of the body dimensions and applied character behaviors of their doll friends.  Television’s animated figures become a teacher of norms thus creating ambitions.  These perfect forms of animated princesses are set as a goal—anything less is imperfect.

Today our stores are filled with dolls emulating fashioned dead people with green or purple skin and mini skirts.  Other fashion dolls have oversized lips, exaggerated eyes and tiny bodies. All in fun right? Or is it?  I write because I’m concerned.  Where is the representation of a normal form or a valued centered life? How do we build healthy minds and bodies when the original recording is based on unrealistic impressions of femininity and questionable values?

Via E is working hard to create a new line of toys that can help build a healthy mental pattern of self while reinforcing traditional family values.  We create these toys not to build shareholder wealth like the major toy companies, but to build the emotional wealth of our children so they may grow to be all that they wish to be—and more.

Look for the announcement of our new toy product line in November 2012.

It’s More Than Just A Doll — The value of doll play

 “O.K. now sit still while I buckle your seat belt.  I love you and want to keep you safe.”  Sally only four years old says kindly to her doll-friend.  Bang, Bang, Bang, startled, Sally’s locks of curly amber colored hair whip around as she quickly looks over her right shoulder.  With his child’s Home Depot hammer in hand and tool belt swung on his slender hips like a modern day home improvement warrior, Sam looks up at his father and says, “Dad can I help you?  I can do it, see…look at me!”

Each of us has stories and memories of our children at play.  It warms our hearts and makes us smile.  But what is play?  We define it as fun, free time where imaginations and energy move in a flurry of laughter and social bonding.  Like a camera zooming into a specific detail, let me take you into playtime and how it is actually the rehearsal of character traits which will determine who your children will ultimately become.

I can give you pages of scientific data espousing the intricacies of how the brain functions, the creation of memories and importance of environmental influences but for the purposes of brevity I’ll instead stick to observations and conclusions that don’t require a PH.D. to understand.  It is accurate to point out that anything repeated over and over again becomes a habit or permanently etched into the brain.  Once there, it can never be removed–only suppressed.

If studies show it takes only six hours of rehearsal to develop the long-term memory of a new motor skill, then consider the hours of play where children repeat behaviors—over and over again through a course of months and years.

Thus our children’s behaviors while at play develop lasting characteristics:  If they engage in constant arguing, they will grow to be combative; constant overpowering of others creates a bully; lack of sharing results in selfishness, etc.  However, a child who nurtures learns how to care for others; expressions of empathy reinforce compassion; and learning to instruct creates leaders.  These latter behaviors are the common observations of girls involved in doll play.   Yes, this “toy” becomes a tool for which we can build compassionate leaders of tomorrow.

Doll play in the early years reflects observed mothering behaviors and is a conduit to express desires for love, friendship and tenderness.  As your little girl grows, the play pattern changes from mothering to peer level friendship and role playing of values learned and observed both inside and outside of the family circle.  The final years of doll play adds crafting and creative works involving sewing, drawing, storytelling and making of play accessories.  Here your daughter’s imagination sores and creativity sets her sole at peace.  All this found in a toy called a doll.

When she looks at her doll, she sees herself.  She sees every woman who loves her, every friend that cares.  These years are magical times of character development–a rehearsal of values that will be tested in years to come.  Today’s girls are pushed to become women before their time.  Doll play offers an environment where wholesome values can become the center of our girl’s lives.

Via E has developed a support structure for moms and girls such that they are exposed to other girls with wholesome values.  We create a rewards system to encourage reading, writing, creativity, social awareness and academic excellence.  Learning is best when learning is fun, so we integrate dolls such that they become more than just a form to dress every now and then, but a tool to rehearse values of compassion, love, caring and social interaction.  Our goal is to excite the imagination and show each girl they can truly make a difference in the world through helping people.  Every time they connect with girls, who exhibit strong values, they are motivated to express their own values and achievements.  By combining forces with moms Via E Girls have both internal and external forces to leverage.  We believe children hold the future and hope to be a part—even a small part—of helping them become all they dare to be.

www.Via-E.com